Idaho Springs, Colorado
Soda Creek Road
We arrived in Idaho Springs on a cool morning. We drove through the cute little town and turned onto Soda Creek Road.
We'd been warned about the congestion and road work. At least the dusty, dirt road was quiet, before 9 on a Saturday.
We parked near the sign and briefly studied the rambling building. We could see the enclosed dome at the end. I was reminded of a few comical, Holidome experiences in my youth.
Don and I always appreciate a little history with our overnights and the hot springs history goes way back. Long before the Westward Expansion, these healing spring waters were discovered by Native Americans.
We crossed the walkway, to the entrance. The center section of the complex was built in 1869, as a bath house. Now it holds the lobby.
The lobby was quiet at 8:45 am, but the staff behind the big corner counter rushed around like they were expecting weekend crowds. Hours later, we would see day guests lined up, between the black poles.
Waiting for Friends
Don and I studied the wall decor while we waited for Martha and Bill to arrive from Denver.
We had a 5-minute history lesson, as we studied the old photos. I loved seeing the black and white image of Indian Springs in 1915, after construction was completed.
Showing Us Around!
Martha and Bill arrived at 9. Martha and I did some squealing and gabbing in the parking lot, then we 4 headed for the stairs. Martha kept pointing to different things and gasping. Her last visit was years ago and the place had changed. We headed down the stairs towards the locker rooms.
Women's Locker Room
The air in the locker room felt warm and steamy. Luckily there were no sulphur smells!
Martha laughed to see how spiffed up the decor was, compared to her last visit many years ago.
The air became more moist and tropical as we headed towards the "translucent dome". We paused to look at the old gazebo, which was actually built, in 1869.
Don asked an employee if the gazebo had ever been a tiki bar. The man nodded and laughed and hinted at the wilder days, when there were fewer rules at the lodge. Alcohol is not allowed today, although one employee winked and reminded us that he wouldn't know what we had in our thermal mugs.
The pool had just opened when we arrived. We were glad to get in before the indoor paradise filled with families and floaty toys.
Posing With Props
Before soaking in the therapeutic waters, I insisted we do a little posing with our Hawaiian leis! Then, I let Martha show me how to "take the waters" as they say in Spa Speak. Martha has a dramatic flair with everything she does!
Luckily Martha and Bill already knew that I sometimes pack or purchase a few props for travel adventures. Two years ago, we met up in nearby Georgetown, CO. We had some fun that day, posing with candy cigarettes and necklaces!
We soaked and gabbed until we were only slightly prune-y. Then we wandered a bit, studying the flowers and palms and banana trees. The humongous rubber tree plant was over 130 years old. Bill said he'd never seen one that big... even in Vietnam.
On our way out of the pool area, we took some time to read the rules that we'd missed earlier. There were no signs telling us to whisper, like we'd seen at a recent Hot Springs Hotel in New Mexico. In fact our Indian Springs experience had little in common with the NM Hot Springs experience... except hot water.
Before heading off to town for a bite of lunch, Martha showed us around, pointing out things she remembered. She was impressed with some of the renovations and disappointed to learn of some changes. The lodge no longer has a restaurant or a bar. And in the evening, they no longer have live music.
The Historic Main Resort
After lunch, Don and I were on our own. We got our key for a room in the Historic Main Resort... not the inn or lodge or cabin. We insisted we wanted to be in the original 1915 building, just off the lobby.
Upstairs, to Room 208
Who knows what the halls and rooms looked like in those early years. The people who visited for health benefits, probably didn't expect luxury.
However, I read that the Vanderbilts and Roosevelts were guests at one time. Clint Eastwood is the only still-living celebrity guest, I saw mentioned. He probably was not as demanding as those wealthy guests from the east, but I'm not sure he would have put up with our lumpy mattress and 3 flat pillows. It was sort of comical.
Fine For a Night
Don and I did chuckle a little at our accommodations. For $128. we had a half bath only. We may not have had luxurious robes, but we did have free all-day use of the soaking pool, on the days we checked in and out.
We were given a room facing the steep hill behind. Much better than the parking lot!
There was no a.c. and no need for one. However, the room was a little stuffy and we wanted some of that mountain air. Luckily, someone left a rock on the windowsill, which came in handy for window propping. The bathroom window was better. I love open windows.
It was kind of crazy that we couldn't even buy a cup of coffee at the hotel. But luckily the walk to town was easy... at least on a construction free weekend. We ate at The Buffalo, in the evening and I had a pleasant jog through town, the next morning.
I grabbed my things and headed to a different area of the basement,where two caves were carved out of the rock, 100+ years ago. I didn't dare use my flash when I snuck a photo in the eerie, "gender specific, clothing optional" soaking cave! I was too hot for the 104-112 temps, anyway. I just grabbed a shower and then Don and I hit the road.
If we'd stayed another night, I would have wanted a full bathroom and a better pillow. But mostly, it was fun to experience the camp-like feel... showering in the basement... open windows... My only regret is that we didn't head back to the pool at 8 pm, to experience the Saturday night, local crowd. That would have added to the fun!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!